DURABLE GOODS by Elizabeth Berg


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 A bittersweet slip of a debut novel about an Army brat named Katie, skating toward adolescence on a base in Texas in the early Sixties. In the aftermath of her mother's death, Katie's home becomes a hostile environment, even though her rebellious older sister, Diane, generally takes the worst blows from their physically abusive father. Under her bed while the battles rage, Katie entreats God not only to send her mother back, but for breasts and a period. Indeed, her yearning to join the secret sisterhood of women is ever on her mind, particularly when she hears Diane sneaking back into the house late at night after trysts with her boyfriend, Dickie Mac (who has a truck and a new litter of puppies!). Meanwhile, next door, Katie's sometimes best friend, Cherylanne, instructs her in the application of eye shadows and lipsticks with names like ``Barely There.'' Things might just go on as they are--because Katie's clearly a survivor made in the mold of Frankie in Member of the Wedding--but then her father announces that they must move yet again, causing Diane to run away with Dickie and taking Katie along. In the end, Katie returns alone: home is better than sleeping on motel room floors, and she suddenly finds herself sorry for her dad. Hope and sorrow mingle at the close of this finely observed, compassionate book. More from Berg will definitely be welcome.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-42208-0
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993


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